I believe that children are our future

Saturday, February 12th, 2005

From time to time I write about our local youth who, bless their little cotton socks, like to entertain themselves with the sort of high-jinks that us boring old stuffy types just don't get.

Like stealing cars and dumping them, setting fire to the long grass and the trees in the local park, and daubing bus shelters with racist, misogynistic graffiti.

Or, in the case of a group of young rascals from neighbouring boroughs, beating me around the head with bottles they'd stolen from an off-licence, leaving me with 17 stitches in five separate wounds.

Not that I have issues or anything, you understand. It was five years ago now. Still got the scars, though.

Tonight I was driving home from the new place of work, which is out west and requires a journey back along motorways and then – depending on whether I fancy being held up by a traffic jam or a level crossing – either a straight but clogged road home or a detour through the town centre, which is split by a railway track.

Tonight I chose the town centre and, sure enough, was caught at the gates of the level crossing while a train went by. I was the second car in the queue, and on the far side was a group of the local youth – pikey boys in naff caps preening themselves, fawned over by a gaggle of hormonal girls competing to see who can get pregnant first.

The crossing barriers went up. The car in front of me rolled forward, and I followed – but then it stopped. The kids were walking in front of it, pretending not to see it, so that it was trapped on the railway tracks. I, right on its bumper, was also on them.

And then the lights started flashing to show that the barriers were about to drop for another train to come through.

There was no room to reverse – the car behind was too close, and it had a queue bearing down on it. The driver in front seemed in no hurry – personally I'd have at least flashed my headlights and possibly sounded my horn, but he seemed happy to wait for them to tire of their game.

Which they did of course, in plenty of time for us to get off the tracks before the barriers came down and another load of harrassed commuters rattled past. Most of these kids have a line which they won't cross, and causing a major train crash is on the far side of it.

But it would only have taken one complete head-the-ball to change things.

I drove off fuming and feeling impotent, my mind filled with visions of their grinning, moronic faces disappearing under the front of the car as I ploughed them down.

Such is life in sunny Feltham, the western gateway to London, candidate city for the 2012 Olympic Games.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.